Good managers, we are told, know how to motivate their people. The result of this ideology, of course, is that most managers spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to do just this. And inevitably, conference planners schedule conferences with so-called great motivational coaches and managers from business and sports. All these speakers emphasize the manager's role in motivating people.
I'm very skeptical of much of what goes under this rubric of coaches and managers "motivating people." As a result I was absolutely delighted to see what the omnipresent Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook had to say about motivation.
Zuckerberg takes issue with the way he's portrayed in The Social Network, especially that he built Facebook to build a pot of gold. What he said to a Stanford audience about the movie portrayal and his own motivation is especially illuminating. They frame it (the movie) as if the whole reason I invented Facebook was that I wanted to get girls or to get into some kind of social institution. They just can't wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things.
In what amounts to an expose of The Social Network, Viginia Heffernan writes in a New York Times article, Network Error, contrasting the movie Zuckerberg with the real guy's motivation. As Heffernan commented, Zuckerberg doesn't mean that he is free from ambition. It's just that his struggles and goals are not about notoriety, status or romance. Quoting Virgil Griffith, she reminds her readers that hackerdom rewards spontaneity, curiosity and ingenuity. Scientific questions like the creativity inherent in Facebook are deeper and the answers so uplifting and transcendently beautiful that contact with them is a genuine spiritual experience.
In other words, Zuckerberg and his compatriots in the work world are all self-motivated. My experience has been very similar throughout all my client base. The managers that really do well and achieve legendary productivity are superb at identifying and hiring self-motivated people. They don't spend their time motivating people.